Do You Use Your Reports (Update)

In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” This is particularly true in business. If you don’t understand the facts and figures of your enterprise, you can’t successfully helm it. Especially in our digital age, information is absolutely integral to your operations. Faced with a constant influx of data, you need a means of sorting out the important statistics, zooming out on your company, and understanding precisely what’s happening across departments. That’s why reporting is an essential component of ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning software.

However, it’s important to note that not all ERP systems are the same. At SCS Cloud, our team of specialists is committed to helping you choose the best one for your business. In order to help our clients make the most of their ERP applications, we’ve endeavored to help them understand their options’ pros and cons a bit better. For example, we recently put together a series on QuickBooks to help users decide if this program was still a good fit for their businesses.

In this blog, we’ll continue our series of “Sage” Advice, explaining the details of this popular ERP software. Below, we’ll tackle the ever-important issue of reporting and challenge you to answer the crucial question: do you actually use yours?

Incomplete Information

In past blogs on Sage, we’ve explained that one of the major drawbacks of this software is that it is a standalone ERP, meaning that it only performs specific functions related to finance, planning, and—you guessed it—reporting. This fractured framework has a variety of disadvantages, but it may hit reporting features the hardest. After all, as an executive or employee, you probably want more data than just the figures related to typical enterprise resource planning, such as inventory or accounts. What if you needed to cross reference customer satisfaction scores with marketing spending, or index inventory against e-Commerce sales? To create custom reports like this, you’d have to use additional software, since Sage is just an ERP.

Sage’s segmented nature means that there will often be gaps in your reports, rendering them virtually worthless. In a recent report on Sage from NetSuite, a previous Sage user explained his or her experience with this splintered software’s reports: “We us ACTI for contact management, Gemini for problem management, Excel for customer quotations and Sage Line 50 for the accounts. We really struggled to produce any accurate and relevant business analysis information, and in many cases we stopped bothering to ask for it.” Sage’s limited functionality discouraged this user from even attempting to generate reports.

Furthermore, even the reporting features that Sage ERP supposedly includes actually rely on external programs. In Sage’s own Frequently Asked Questions for it’s Sage 100 ERP Intelligence Reporting, the company acknowledges: “Since Intelligence Reporting utilizes Excel, Sage 100 ERP customers need to have Excel 2003 or Excel 2010. In order to run the Report Designer, customers need Excel 2007 or above.” Basically, this means that, in order to utilize Sage ERP’s already limited reporting features, you have to purchase and run an additional program. This raises your costs, unnecessarily complicates the reporting process, slows down your servers, and increases the risk for errors.

The Dangers of Outdated Reports

Sage ERP also has a habit of generating outdated reports. As you likely know, in the fast pace of twenty-first century business, being even a few days behind with your projections, accounting, payroll, inventory, orders, or other ERP-related functions could lead to disaster.

On Sage City, the company’s online community support forum, a client complained: “I have a lot of old credits showing up on my receivables report for companies that are no longer in business…They are beyond the point of going in and just deleting them…how do I remove these??” False credits showing up in receivables reports could lead executives to spend money they don’t actually have, send out incorrect invoices, or make other similar business blunders. In order to solve the problem, this user had to go through numerous steps to “offset the Credit Memo…define an appropriate GL Account…select the appropriate Customer ID” and reconcile the reports manually.

This took valuable time (and therefore money) from the user, as well as adding stress and hassle, which is the exact opposite purpose an ERP is supposed to serve. Many similar questions about outdated data appeared on the Sage forum, suggesting that this is not an isolated issue. NetSuite also noted that a former Sage-using corporation had “in an average month, 1.5 percent of turnover…overdue” and “struggled to account for the shortcomings and chase them down accordingly” as a result of inaccurate reporting. In fact, according to NetSuite’s research, some Sage users even “build in a cushion of error” for their reports to circumvent outdated data catastrophes.

You shouldn’t need to outsmart your software’s errors just to get by! When your business pays for an ERP system to boost efficiency, this same software shouldn’t then make mistakes, become outdated, and ultimately slow you down.

Unused Reports Are Useless Reports

Given all of the pitfalls of Sage ERP reporting, many businesses simply stop using this facet of the software entirely. Giving up on Sage ERP reports is understandable, but it isn’t wise. Reports aren’t just bonus features of ERP, cute little graphs and charts you can share around the office.

In effective ERP software, reporting plays an incredibly vital role. It helps owners, managers, executives, and employees understand the status of their various departments so they can solve problems and maximize profits. If your reports are just sitting in your Excel files, growing stale in your email inbox, or never even generated in the first place, you’re actually losing money on ERP, paying for a pivotal service you don’t use. You wouldn’t continue to buy inventory you weren’t selling or hire employees whose services you never used, so why would you ignore reports?

SCS Cloud is here to help you take charge of your ERP, demonstrate the notable value of its reports, and provide better solutions for your business.

Can Your Reports Keep Up?

Ironically and unfortunately, given Sage ERP’s limitations, the companies most likely to deal with the above reporting issues are successful businesses. Sage just isn’t prepared to handle expansion. As NetSuite explains, “the culprit for most of [Sage’s reporting] problems is growth. The ad-hoc, finger-on-the-pulse kind of reporting that worked when Sage was installed, no longer works in a rapidly growing firm.” If your reports have recently become annoyingly outdated, difficult to run, noticeably fragmented, or downright defunct, it’s likely because your company is actually doing quite well! Although Sage may have served you in your earlier stages, your enterprise has probably boomed to the point where you need bigger, better, more integrated ERP.

A Reporting Option Superior to Sage?

Sage software has been around for nearly 40 years—it’s well known, generally respected, and undeniably common. If you’ve been running Sage ERP for decades, the idea of transitioning to a different program may seem daunting, even if you’re encountering daily reporting issues. Sage has its merits for smaller businesses with simpler reporting needs and executives who don’t mind running dozens of applications or troubleshooting routine bugs just to get basic reporting information. However, in all likelihood, this doesn’t describe your business.

Luckily, there is a better way to manage your enterprise’s resources. At SCS Cloud, we often recommend NetSuite for ERP. This cloud-based business software suite combines ERP with E-Commerce, PSA (Professional Services Automation), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and other financial features. With all of these applications attached to a single, secure, remotely stored information source, each piece of software operates better. Since every facet of cloud-based business software seamlessly interoperates with the others and all share the same data, NetSuite offers customized, fast, accurate reporting. With this solution, your reports can finally be complete, up-to-date, useful, and accommodating of your awesome business’s awesome expansion.

How Our Clever Cloud Consultants Can Help

Are your Sage ERP reports driving you crazy or, even worse, nonexistent? SCS Cloud offers consulting, custom development, implementation, and support & training to help you make the sage choice to switch to a cloud-based alternative such as NetSuite. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!